Keeping Homegrown bands at the forefront

PORTS join the line-up at this year's Homegrown gig.
PORTS join the line-up at this year's Homegrown gig.

When singer/songwriter Paul Casey started the Homegrown gig in 2013, it was to give local bands a platform during the City of Culture year.

Three years later and the fourth show is organised for the Millennium Forum next Friday - and keeping true to his passion, all of those appearing are Derry musicians making a living from music.

“It’s not easy,” Paul concedes, “making music your livelihood, but we keep plugging on.”

The lead singer of PORTS, Stephen McCool, agrees. “Being creative, making music your life, is great but the business aspect of being a band needs addressed too.

“Sometimes focussing on the business side can be tedious, and the music can take a backseat but then you’ll get a riff going; a melody, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Paddy Nash agrees, “When you get a line; a hook that you’ve been working on, then the adrenaline kicks in.”

Paddy left a permanent paid job to make music his full-time career, and it’s not something he regrets.

“I feel compelled to make music, even if I wasn’t working full-time at it, I would do it anyway. But people do think it’s not a real job!”

Yet, studies have shown that the arts play a huge role in a nation’s wellbeing, be that art, music, dance - and the bands playing at Homegrown are all a part of making music that makes the population listen.

Paul agrees, “This gig at the Forum is about playing to an audience that perhaps wouldn’t normally hear our music live, maybe because the environment we normally play in isn’t their cup of tea; the bars and small venues.

“This gig allows those people to see three bands - and special guests too - for a reasonable price; and they can be home by midnight too if they want!

“I’ll be playing from my latest album, ‘After the Harvest’.”

PORTS will be playing a lot of the music they became well known for when they used to be known as ‘Little Bear’, as well as a few new tracks from their upcoming album release in May.

Paddy Nash and his Happy Enchiladas will be performing a wide range of their tracks, with Eamonn Friel joining them for a couple of numbers too.

Tickets for the Homegrown concert are available at the Millennium Forum Box Office on (028) 71264455 or www.millenniumforum/, priced at £12.50, £16.50 and £19.50.